EU Human Rights Defenders Relocation Platform

Human Rights Defenders at Risk and Temporary Relocation

Who is a Human Rights Defender?

A human rights defender (HRD) is anyone who, individually or with others, acts to protect or promote universally recognized human rights.  The United Nations offers a detailed description of who human rights defenders are and what they do.

What threats and violations do HRDs face?

In many cases, the work of human rights defenders challenges the position or interests of other, usually more powerful, actors.  For this reason, they are threatened, attacked or harassed, in order to prevent them from doing their work.  The UN has made a summary of the most common violations HRDs face, which include killings, dissappearances, death threats, beatings, arbitrary arrest or detention, harassment, defamation and break-ins at homes or offices. 

What is "temporary relocation" of HRDs?

To ensure the safety and well-being of human rights defenders, temporary relocation is sometimes necessary.  Human rights defenders are able to leave their place of work, their country or region, for a limited period of time, removing them from a situation of danger and stress.  During this period, they are able to rest, seek rehabilitation, build their capacities through training, expand their international network of contacts, or continue their human rights work, albeit from a secure location.  At the end of the period, HRDs return to their location of work, although in some cases, this may not be possible due to ongoing risks.  Temporary relocation is not to be confused with emigration or seeking asylum.  As a rule, HRDs are not interested in leaving their country permanently, but in removing themselves from a dangerous situation until the threat subsides.